WTF Friday, 3/25/11

Not cute. Ok kinda cute but wtf? Dad really does appear to be trying to nestle that thing under the kid’s arm. Or at least I hope that’s his dad. Well, part of me does and part of me doesn’t. Paradox.

At first I thought this said “dessert news.” Would have been appropriate. Jokes aside, let’s keep Utah in our hearts and prayers.

Another misunderstanding on my part, I thought for sure this was referring to a political party. Wrong again, it’s an actual party.

WTF Friday, 2/4/2011

Missed pun opportunity of the week: Demockracy. Am I the only one in journalism (erm…) trying anymore?

A U.S. appeals court has upheld the landmark September ruling that companies cannot be tried in U.S. courts for violations of international human rights laws. The suit, brought against Shell by families of seven Nigerians who were executed by a former military government for protesting oil exploration in the 1990s, may make its way to the Supreme Court. This is definitely one to pay attention to.

Are Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez trying to tell Evo Morales something? You knee one guy in the groin and all of a sudden it’s an international intervention…

PS, there’s also some other stuff going on.

WTF Friday, 1/21/11

Raise your hand if you thought this was about an actual volcano in Southern Sudan. Seriously though that’s a hot metaphor.

The title says it all: “Babies, the dead on voters roll.” People born in 1897 and lil babies born yesterday (well, 2007) are all ready to vote in Zimbabwe’s general election this year. This gives me an idea for a PSA, kind of a mix between Night of the Living Dead and Gummo warning about the dangers of voter fraud.
So apparently Baby Doc’s return to Haiti was more than just a nostalgic visit. He was actually trying to unlock a Swiss bank account worth $5.7 million. Guess he left his pin number on the nightstand? This gives me a good idea for Ocean’s Fourteen.

WTF Friday, 1/7/11

With the South Sudan referendum fast-approaching, George Clooney’s “Not On Our Watch” is funding commercial sattelites to monitor possible conflict in the country. Clooney has described it as “the best use of his celebrity.” Kinda just seems like he’s trying to recruit a mercenary for Ocean’s Fourteen.

The Dominican Republic has again begun deporting illegal immigrants from Haiti after suspending this practice in the wake of last year’s earthquake. Alright, looks like everything’s back to normal.

Al Shabaab has arrested regional leaders for stealing $10,000 in aid intended for drought-affected areas. If they just kicked out the remaining aid agencies they wouldn’t have to worry about this kind of embarrassment…

Weird Stuff: Today in Genocide

Hey Internets, long time no see. On the list of things I’m going to try to be better about in 2011 is “occasionally showing up to my own blog.”

Meanwhile, a collection of improbable genocide and war crimes related news stories for your end-of-the-year enjoyment:

  1. Alleged war criminal Goran Hadzic may be attempting to finance his life on the run through the sale of a Modigliani oil painting said by Serbian authorities to be worth millions of euros.
  2. Guardian columnist declares Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir misunderstood, not such a jerk after all (h/t: Atlantic Wire).
  3. Academy Award winner / Carrier Pigeon of Peace George Clooney launches genocide prevention satellite surveillance service.

And in less improbable genocide-related news, Côte d’Ivoire’s new ambassador to the United Nations, Youssofou Bamba, has warned the international community that his country is “on the brink of genocide” following no-longer-the-President Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to hand over power to actually-the-President Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the Nov. 28th runoff election. For an excellent overview of why we should take his statement seriously, see Jina Moore’s new post on the situation.

Is HRW’s Ken Roth Celebrating October Fools’ Day?

Unless there’s an October Fools’ Day that we’re unaware of, we’re going to have to issue an Amber Alert for Ken Roth’s common sense.

Roth, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, argues in this week’s Foreign Policy that Obama should send troops to Africa to apprehend Joseph Kony:

[A]s Barack Obama recognized in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, “Force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans.”

Obama needs to put this principle into practice, and there is no better case for the humanitarian use of force than the urgent need to arrest Joseph Kony, the ruthless leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and protect the civilians who are his prey. And far from requiring a non-consensual intervention, Kony’s apprehension would be welcomed by the governments concerned.

Say what now? First of all, the fact that force “can be justified” on humanitarian grounds hardly means that the only decision remaining to be made is where to start a-forcing. And second through fourth of all, “far from requiring a non-consensual intervention?”

As they say on ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego,’ let’s go to the map:

The governments concerned are the Sudan, the DRC, and the Central African Republic. Perhaps they might welcome Kony’s apprehension, but does Roth really believe that they would welcome large numbers of American troops trampling their beautiful shrubberies in order to make that happen? Seriously?

Let’s start with Sudan, because recent reports suggest that Kony’s probably hanging out in Darfur at the moment. Let’s set aside for a moment Khartoum’s cuddly relationship with Kony over the years, its refusal to allow Uganda to send its troops into Darfur to pursue him, and the fact that U.S. troops arriving just in time for the referendum on Southern Sudanese independence might raise a few eyebrows. Does Roth really think that if Obama calls up President Bashir and tells him some U.S. marines are on their way over to arrest a notorious war criminal who’s wanted on an ICC warrant, Bashir’s going to be like “peachy keen!” Because we think he might have some concerns about that…

And then we have the DRC, where Kabila continues to insist that the you-say-MONUC-I-say-MONUSCO peacekeepers clear off the field in time for the November 2011 elections. Apparently, it’s time for the Congo to “fly with its own wings.” Definitely sounds like a government that would “welcome” a new intervention, right?

In Roth’s defense, at an A.U. summit today, the CAR government did call for the LRA to be “treated and fought like al Qaeda.” However, we’re thinking that when they said “like al Qaeda” they probably meant “like a serious threat to international peace,” not “like a group in fruitless pursuit of which the United States should reduce our country to rubble for nearly a decade.”

(Hat tips to Texas in Africa, who points out some other potential problems with this plan, and to Abu Muqawama, who nominates Roth for Tuesday’s “Worst Idea on the Internet” award; Map via Reliefweb)

I’ll Take "Terrible Ideas" for $200, Alex

The Daily Monitor reports today that the Southern Sudanese Parliament is allocating $2 million to arming local militias to fight the LRA. (In case you’re new here, the rebel group moved out of Northern Uganda several years ago and has been causing a ruckus in the border region of Southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic ever since.)

The governments in these countries have not been up to the task of protecting their civilians from LRA atrocities, so villagers in many areas have taken matters into their own hands, forming local self-defense forces. In Southern Sudan, these militias, currently armed with knives and traditional weapons, will now be supplied with “guns, communication systems and training.”

This is kind of making my head explode. Let’s have a poll about why:

WTF Friday, 8/20/10

  • In deportation news, the UK and France are going buck wild and looking to deport 20,000 Zimbabweans and 700 Roma, respectively. France has already moved forward with the plans while the UK is first performing a fact-finding mission. The mission is intended to assess the political and economic climate, but let’s hope it also assesses the real climate, which would push back the deportations until October when the UK is in the middle of Fall and Zimbabwe’s Summer begins. Upgrade!
  • Thanks to Kate for pointing me to this story on Southern Sudan planning to remake cities to look like animals. I was skeptical at first, but I was the same way when I heard they had cookies shaped like animals, and let’s just say I’ve been eating more than my words ever since.
  • Ok Brazil really needs to get a little tougher with its anti-slavery laws. I realize fining a company for keeping slaves on its ranches is better than turning a blind eye, but placing a monetary value on this kind of thing opens the door to a cost-benefit analysis on slave labor. Tell me someone’s not crunching these numbers right now.